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|Parish schools anticipate $16 million cushion|
Ouachita Parish Schools is expected to have $16.1 million in its general fund at the end of its 2008-09 fiscal year.
The 2008-09 fiscal year ends June 30.
Richie Garrett, business manager at Ouachita Parish Schools, anticipates the school system's expenditures will exceed revenues in the general fund by $1.2 million for the 2008-09 fiscal year.
The budget was first adopted in September, but Garrett said changes do occur throughout the year and budget revisions must be made.
"Revenues aren't exactly what we originally anticipated as well as expenditures, so things change throughout the year," Garrett said. "And, as we get further into the year, we are required by state law to adjust the budget.
The Ouachita Parish School Board approved its first budget revision at its most recent regular meeting.
Anticipated revenues increased by $867,419 from $129,205,561 to $130,072,980. That was due primarily to an increase in E-rate funding.
"We don't have a clue at the beginning of the year how much money we're going to get from E-rate funding," Garrett explained. "By February, we know about how much we're going to get, but being a conservative accountant, I'm not going to budget money we're not sure we're going to get. So, once I figure out how much we're going to get, I'll go ahead and budget it, so that's why there's a big increase in that."
Ad valorem tax revenues also increased by $166,000 more than originally anticipated when the budget was adopted last year. That is due to increased property values and additional housing, Garrett said.
MFP funding from the state also increased by $632,520 more than originally budgeted due to an increase of about 60 students.
"If you get above 50 students, they give you what's called a mid-year adjustment on your MFP, and since we exceeded that, we got an additional chunk in MFP in February," Garrett said.
Also, estimates of interest earnings on investments have decreased by $500,000 from the original budget due to the downturn in the economy, Garrett said. Investment rates have dropped from 2 percent-3 percent to less than 1 percent.
"That's just really hurting us on our investments, but everyone is aware of that," he said.
While revenues have increased over what was originally budgeted, so have expenditures.
Estimated general fund expenditures have increased from $130,706,421 in the original budget estimate to $131,386,389 in the revised budget approved earlier this month. That was an increase in expenditures of $679,968.
Salaries and related benefits were one of the reasons for the increase in expenditures.
"Salaries and benefits control our budget," Garrett said. "It's 87 percent of it, so that's the majority of where the increase was."
Utility costs also increased by $390,000 more than originally estimated, Garrett said.
"I don't understand why our utilities have continued to increase," Garrett continued. "I thought after gas prices dropped at the end of last year that our utility cost would go down. Our actual usage is down from last year, too, but that fuel adjustment charge has bumped everything up."
However, one bright spot with expenditures was fuel prices for buses went down approximately $400,000 than what was originally budgeted, Garrett said.